Fake trade: Fielder to Boston for Ellsbury
Red Sox acquire first baseman Prince Fielder from the Brewers for outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury and RHP Michael Bowden. Why it works for Boston: Since David Ortiz may be more of a No. 6 hitter going forward, the Red Sox could use a left-handed power presence in the third or fourth spot in the order. Unlike anyone available in free agency this winter, Fielder provides that in spades. He finished third in the majors in OPS, second in homers, tied for first in RBI and fourth in walks this season. Boston can also easily handle his $10.5 million salary, and the team may prefer the short-term commitment to him rather than going to five years to re-sign Jason Bay or six or seven to bring in Matt Holliday. Why it works for Milwaukee: The Brewers would want a young ace as the primary return for Fielder, but Ellsbury, the major league leader in steals this season, would fit nicely. As is, the Brewers would have to spend about $20 million to bring back Fielder and free agent Mike Cameron next year. They could plug Mat Gamel and Ellsbury into those holes, and since both are making the minimum, use the savings to bring in a pair of quality veteran starters this winter. Plus, they’d get a legitimate rotation option in Bowden, who had a 3.13 ERA in 24 starts as a 22-year-old in Triple-A this year. He projects as more of a No. 4 starter in the AL, but he may be a legit No. 3 in the NL. Why it won’t happen: Milwaukee would probably hold out for Clay Buchholz in a Fielder deal, and the Red Sox won’t want to trade their young starter after the way he came on in the second half of the year. The Brewers have the ability to hold on to Fielder at his relatively modest salary for one more year and would still be able to get plenty for him in trade next winter, when he’ll have one year to go before free agency. In the meantime, they can shop J.J. Hardy and see if he’ll being a decent starter.